Steven Smith Australia Jos Buttler England
Steven Smith yet again showed his immense class in an Australia shirtReuters

Ian Bell would have expected his brilliant-to-watch 141 to be enough to give England a crucial tri-series victory over Australia in Hobart; but when you have Steven Smith in the opposition batting lineup, no score is impossible, indeed it is sometimes made to look ordinary.

Smith just keeps getting better and better, showcasing his ridiculous bating talent to the world with every knock, and it was his unbeaten 102 (95, 6x4, 1x6) which was the cornerstone behind Australia's immaculate chase, which gave them a third straight victory in the tri-series and with it a place in the final.

The result of Bell's outstanding 141 (125b, 15x4, 1x6) was England finishing on 303/8 in their 50 overs on a tailor-made-for-batting pitch in Hobart after being put into bat by Australia in the tri-series match.

Smith, who became the first person in history to score a hundred on debut as a Test and ODI captain, anchored the chase brilliantly, hitting the big shots when it was needed and milking those singles when the ball was not thudding to the boundary rope, to guide Australia to 304/7 in 49.5 overs and pull his team to another impressive victory while leading from the front as the skipper.

Australia's reply was pretty textbook – get a nice little start in, keep your best batsman (read Smith) at the crease as long as possible, make sure you don't lose too many wickets in a hurry and keep that required run rate under seven for much of the chase.

Aaron Finch and his opening partner for this match –Shaun Marsh – got off to a flier, putting on 76 runs together in under 11 overs, with that man you just cannot underestimate – Moeen Ali – giving England the vital first breakthrough.

It was a typical Ali wicket really – Finch (32, 32b, 3x4) looking for a big shot over the onside off a bowler he thinks he can smash at will and only managing to find himself castled by the canny off-spinner.

With Smith coming in at No.3 Australia looked to keep the aggressive button pressed, especially with Marsh looking quite good at the other end – much more comfortable and at ease than he has looked in Test match cricket.

With the match sort of drifting Australia's way as they milked the runs, the contest was crying out for a bowler to take the game by the scruff of the neck and change the course of proceedings and enter Steven Finn, the man who dismantled India in the last match with a five-for.

Finn (10-0-65-2) first picked up the impressive Marsh (45, 48b, 6x4), after the left-hander lofted the ball straight to Ian Bell at backward point. A couple of deliveries later and Cameron White's return to ODI cricket after four years ended courtesy a stunner of a yorker from the England fast bowler.

The express paceman could have had a third wicket in the same over, but Anderson could not quite grasp a flick from Glenn Maxwell at midwicket, with the latter and Smith then going on to ally for 69 crucial runs in 61 balls.

As long as Maxwell (37, 38b, 4x4) stayed, Australia were going to win, but that penchant to pick up the crucial wicket came to the fore for Ali (10-0-50-2) again as the England spinner dismissed the danger man, who could not help himself but go for a big shot and could only find the fielder in the deep.

Time for another half-century partnership then, with Smith this time putting on 55 runs with James Faulkner, albeit not as quickly as the previous one.

Faulkner has been Australia's chief finisher recently in ODI cricket, but England's ability to just keep chipping away helped them pick up Faulkner's wicket, putting Australia on 216/5, needing another 88 runs in less than 13 overs.

Smith was the key for Australia, because you know if he is at the crease until the end, Australia would win, especially with the home team needing a very makeable 74 in the final ten.

With Brad Haddin (42, 29b, 4x4, 1x6) at the other end giving him good company, Smith eased his side home to ensure that place in the tri-series finale, even if it was closer than he would have liked owing to Moises Henriques' (4, 11b) struggles.

Ian Bell England Brad Haddin Australia
England opener Ian Bell hits the ball to the boundary via a reverse-sweep in the tri-series match against AustraliaReuters

Earlier, If there were any doubts of Bell being the right fit for England at the top order, all those doubts were dispelled via an elegant, eye-catching, "now that's how a one-day innings should be played" hundred from the flowing blade of the right-hander.

From ball one Bell looked in the mood – actually ball one of the innings was taken by Moeen Ali, understandably, after that golden duck against Mitchell Starc in the first match of the tri-series against Australia – with crisp, perfectly-timed drives aplenty gliding off the willow of the elegant right-hander.

With the ball coming on nicely to the bat and short boundaries (for Australian grounds) at the Bellerive Oval, a high score was inevitable, especially with the Australia bowlers looking a touch less intense, after their two early victories in the tri-series over England and India respectively.

Bell and Moeen Ali raced to 100 in just the 16th over, setting up that perfect platform for the rest of the England batsmen to make merry.

Ali (46, 48b, 3x4, 3x6), as seems the norm now, gave his wicket away while going for a hoick off James Faulkner, but with England putting on 113 runs for the first wicket, his job had been done.

James Taylor, who looked so good in the win over India, struggled a little in the middle, but that did not stop Bell from just easing those runs, with the England opener then building a second 100-run partnership of the innings alongside the excellent Joe Root, who came in after Taylor (5, 14b) fell looking for a big shot.

Bell and Root showed just how nicely-paced the wicket is, with even Starc, who took ten wickets in the two matches prior to this, unable to put a real dent in the proceedings – he would come back with a vengeance in the final overs, though.

The diminutive right-handed duo put on 121 runs in a mere 19 overs -- quite outstanding for the middle section of the innings – to put England on course for a score well above 300.

The momentum was quelled completely, though, from the 42nd over with Bell and Eoin Morgan falling in quick succession, both picked up by the impressive Gurinder Sandhu (10-0-49-2). Bell, looking for a big shot over the infield, only managed to skew the ball to the left of mid-off with Starc completing a good catch, while Morgan was out for a golden duck a couple of deliveries later, as Australia looked for a final-overs fightback, much like they did against India in their last match.

Those two wickets slowed down England completely, with Root (69, 70b, 6x4) also perishing soon after, while Jos Buttler (25, 24b, 2x4) and Ravi Bopara (7, 16b) were unable to put their usual finishing touches with Australia bowling splendidly in the end – England managing just 59/6 in the last ten overs, with three of those wickets falling in the final three balls of the innings.

Fall of wickets: England: Ali (113/1, 17.4 overs); Taylor (132/2, 22.2); Bell (253/3, 41.2); Morgan (254/4, 41.4); Root (275/5, 44.4); Bopara (303/6, 49.4); Buttler (303/7, 49.5); Woakes (303/8, 50).

Australia: Finch (76/1, 11.4 overs); Marsh (92/2, 16.1); White (92/3, 16.3); Maxwell (161/4, 26.4); Faulkner (216/5, 37.2); Haddin (297/6, 47.3); Henriques (302/7, 49.3).

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